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hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
Hanna, there's no way anything I might say could measure up to your eloquence here. But you inspire me, so I'll try.

I'm here because little more than a year ago, after seeing and hearing Abraham Lincoln in the flesh -- when he was temporarily housed in the body of a guy named Daniel Day-Lewis -- I simply had to learn more about that dear, heroic man and the times he lived in. As I began reading books about Lincoln, he, in turn, introduced me to "his" general, "Sam" Grant, an unprepossessing failed farmer who stole my heart from the moment I began learning the truth behind all the false myths maliciously circulated about him since before the war even began. As someone whose knowledge of the Civil War had previously not gone much further than a certain Clark Gable movie, I was also amazed to start learning the truth about W.T. Sherman, who I now find was nothing at all like the fanged, horned villain he's been made out to be, not only in that infamous movie but in most other places in our culture as well.

I'm here because I find paradoxes endlessly fascinating. How does one ever get one's mind around, for example, Stonewall Jackson, a saintly individual who nevertheless fought for a cause that was, as Grant put it, "one of the worst for which a people ever fought"?

I'm here because, like the Old Testament, the American Civil War seems to contain in intensely concentrated microcosm the whole variety of human experience, both that of individuals and that of nations. Good and evil, conscience and corruption, duty and responsibility and cowardice, compassion and cruelty, justice, dignity, courage and fear, magnificence and pettiness, faith and despair, reason and madness -- all are met in that horrible conflagration that, most mind-blowingly of all, really did happen HERE.

I grew up in Texas and now call Kansas home -- and everything from "Hood's Texans" to "Bleeding Kansas" has become part of my interior landscape. Driving to a high-school basketball game recently, I passed the site of an army fort that Grant and Sherman inspected in 1868, after the tragedy of the Civil War was giving way to the next big national tragedy, the final stand of the Plains Indians. When I drive between my two home states, traversing Oklahoma, I think of all the Civil War battles that were fought in that state, and how the nations within Indian Territory were divided within themselves as kinsmen fought against each other, some siding with the Union, some with the rebel South. Whenever I cross the Red River into or out of Texas, I get the heebie-jeebies, thinking of all the terror and misery that took place along that very river's banks further downstream where, on the giant cotton and sugar plantations of Louisiana, slaves such as Solomon Northup and other real, living equivalents of the fictional Uncle Tom endured unimaginable horrors.

The Civil War was so powerful, so transformative, so huge in our national subconscious, that now that I have consciously learned more about it, it spontaneously comes to mind through countless connections in my everyday life. I know what you and Forever Friend mean about thinking of those poor suffering soldiers whenever you experience some mild discomfort such as cold or hunger. I especially think of those soldiers when health problems come up. I'm dealing with a leg infection right now that, had I lived then, would have me dead by now -- or at least, minus a leg -- had I lived back then. I remember how Grant was only in command at Shiloh because his superior and mentor C.F. Smith could no longer be in charge, since he lay dying at the time -- dying -- of the infection he got after scraping his leg -- scraping his leg! -- on the wooden seat of a rowboat when he debarked.

And yet, for all that modern medicine and other technological developments have made our lives more comfortable, are we really any more secure? Is the world at large any less violent? Are human beings any more virtuous now than then? Are we not still fallen creatures? Do we not, each and every one of us, make moral choices daily that impact the future, and those around us in the present, in powerful ways, regardless of whether we see those consequences as clearly as if they were written in blood?

Okay- first of all I think that post left me in the dust and then some- umm... wow, you a professional writer? :smile:- and second of all- agreed. With all of it. The paradoxes, the people who seem like one thing but turn out to be so much more complex, and the fact that we're so different and so much the same.
 
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cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
I'm here because I find paradoxes endlessly fascinating. How does one ever get one's mind around, for example, Stonewall Jackson, a saintly individual who nevertheless fought for a cause that was, as Grant put it, "one of the worst for which a people ever fought"?

I can answer this. As my old professor likes to say, Jackson was really a very simple man. He saw things in black and white [no pun intended]. He saw slavery existing because God willed that it exist, and ordinary mortals like him had no business interfering in what God willed to exist. It really was that simple with him. Jackson really didn't care if slavery existed or not. If it existed it was because God wanted it to exist, and it would end if and when God wanted it to end. He was one who truly did fight for the confederacy because Virginia became part of the confederacy. This is not to say he didn't know what the confederacy was about, but he considered all that to be for God to sort out.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
I grew up playing in an abandoned antebellum mansion with slave shacks out front (yes, out front - the road is not where it once was). My cousin lived in a house with a garden on the spot where Nathan Bedford Forrest supposedly once rendesvoused with his officers before a raid....

I managed not to be more than passingly interested in the Civil War until fairly recently, when I set out to build a late 19th century NC town in the Sims. I make textures for video game models for a living, and the Sims is kind of a busman's holiday for me....

I started asking, what kind of architecture was there? When was this building built? When was the town square built, and what was there before that? What history did this town have? Who lived there twenty years ago? And before I knew it my little town was two towns, one starting in the 1880's and moving forward into the 20th century, and an older version, set during the War. My little town had its own little company of Confederate mounted riflemen, and some Union sympathizers, and a pro-secession congressman, and a judge with secret abolitionist sympathies. All the time I was doing research for this I was learning something else: the Civil War is really interesting. Amazing things happened, quite often next door to you. Larger than life people did larger than life things.

At the moment I'm researching my own family history, with a focus on one company of the 7th TN Cav (CSA), and learning all kinds of things about every aspect of the war. But my little town is still there, and in my spare time I'm still working on it.
Fascinating!!
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
It's a long story.... All that is responsible for my becoming "hooked" on the era in my mid-70s.
Hail, sister, well met! Late-50s myself. It's humbling, for me, to realize how much important stuff I never knew until so late in life. But I think two old but true clichés apply: You're never too old to learn, and, better late than never! :smile coffee:
 

rhettbutler1865

Colonel, CSA Cavalry
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
I agree, Freestater. Wouldn't it have been nice for us Midwestern folks to have been able to play in and around the actual CW sites and history? I had to play "Civil War" with neighborhood kids, in a suburb...even then, I had to convince them to play CW, not WWII...
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
I agree, Freestater. Wouldn't it have been nice for us Midwestern folks to have been able to play in and around the actual CW sites and history? I had to play "Civil War" with neighborhood kids, in a suburb...even then, I had to convince them to play CW, not WWII...

You should try living where I live- half the people here don't even know we had a Civil War- much less are interested in it!
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
Here in Minnesota, I have no battlefields to walk, no graves to visit, no sites of the war period. All we have are lots and lots of Native American names of cities, towns, creeks/falls, etc. Anyone see that stupid movie with Charlie Sheen, "Hot Shots"? He was talking to a chief, supossedly in Sioux, and every word out of his mouth was a Minnesota place. (That part, actually, WAS kinda funny). But I have said this before--I envy those of you who live out there, and I might just move myself, seriously...
Hey, don't sell Minnesota short! Minnesota had a huge participation in the war relative to its size -- 26,717 volunteers from a total population of only 170,000! Indeed, Minnesota has the honor of having been the first state to offer troops to the Union war effort. The 1st Minnesota fought gallantly at Gettysburg, and indeed two Minnesota men won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism on the battle's third day. There are bound to be at least a few monuments connected with all this in your state!
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
No. This was a small country church near Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley that was used as a hospital during the war. We attended services there when I was young. The building itself was built by slaves in the early 1800s. It still has an active congregation.
In the gorgeous Flint Hills of Kansas is the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church. It surprised me, when I visited it, to discover that it, too, still has an active congregation!
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
I have loved history since the 4th grade, but the Civil War never peaked my interest until Frank Wildhorn wrote a musical (song cycle) called The Civil War and the songs were based on primary documents from the war....

When I left the candle light vigil at the Bloody Angle... I felt it clearly. I was leaving and yet the souls of those who fought remained. It was my duty to bear witness to their struggle so that they don't disappear into the ether as a footnote to history.
Thank you for the tip about a musical I've never heard of and will certainly look into,
and,
Thank you for your beautiful statement about bearing witness. Yes, yes, yes.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
I find it amazing how a country that had been in existence less than 100 years could make such brutal war with each other. The whole thing from slavery to how immigrants got involved in it to the price that poor woman & children paid for it. It truly is an amazing conflict. The human stories are what draws me the most from the soldiers letters home to the woman trying to keep their family's from starvation. I love looking at every aspect from it. Being Scottish I think I am lucky that I don't have a "side" that I came from & can look at things objectively without feeling a sense of loyalty to any "side"

I have loved being part of this forum & have learned so much already.
Beautifully expressed, Alex. Glad you are here. Welcome!
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
No offense to you or the original poster who recommended it- but please, please, please, for the love of your sanity and mine- don't look into it. It's absolutely wretched.
Thanks for the warning! All that's available on Amazon anyway is a CD, hard-to-find and prohibitively expensive. If I get the hankering for a Civil War CD, I'll probably invest instead in what I've really been craving -- something with old hits such as "We Are Coming, Father Abraham" and "Marching Through Georgia"!! :dance:
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
It's probably dangerous to admit this, but in truth I am not a "Civil War buff," although I do care a great deal about certain aspects. I would bet serious money that there is not a single person on this forum who knows less about ACW battles, generals and weaponry and so forth than I do (unless it involves the Department of the South, in which case I might know a little bit).

What I am interested in is the home front, especially as it involves women and enslaved people. I have been a serious student of African American history, literature, music, visual art, folklore and folklife for about 45 years (probably in part because I have an interracial family (white, black, Japanese). To be honest, I am more interested in the antebellum period (what caused the war) and the postbellum period (what the war caused) than I am in the fighting. I don't know why I have so little interest in the military aspects -- I've been both a military daughter and a military wife, but I've just never been into that aspect of history at any time period.

However, I love this forum and so many of the wonderful people on it. I first came to it because of a problem I had with a biography I am writing. My subject was the son of slaves that had been present during Kilpatrick's arrival in Liberty County, Georgia, at the end of Sherman's march to the sea. I had a lot of trouble understanding some things I'd read, and I thought the forum members might be able to help. I was stunned at the amount of time and education people gave me.

I admire so many people here -- even those with whom I sometimes disagree. Just one example -- Nateb1 is a big admirer of That Guy and I am not at all, yet she has shown me immeasurable kindness, over and over. I left the forum for quite some time due to health problems, but I'm pleased to be back. Before long, I'll have recovered completely and will have to go back to work, sigh...and will no longer get to post so much....but for a while at least, I'm so pleased to spend some time here every day.
Thank you for sharing your fascinating story. And I agree with you about the people here -- they're stellar.
 

tonijustine

Corporal
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
No offense to you or the original poster who recommended it- but please, please, please, for the love of your sanity and mine- don't look into it. It's absolutely wretched.

To each his own. I love it. I will be seeing it for the second time in Ford's Theatre in two and a half weeks and have planned vacations around seeing it (the first time at Ford's, once in South Carolina, Clarksville, TN). It isn't Les Mis, but it wasn't ever meant to be.
 

hanna260

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Location
Just Around the Riverbend
To each his own. I love it. I will be seeing it for the second time in Ford's Theatre in two and a half weeks and have planned vacations around seeing it (the first time at Ford's, once in South Carolina, Clarksville, TN). It isn't Les Mis, but it wasn't ever meant to be.

Different opinions make the world go round. :smile: Glad I didn't upset you though.
 

tonijustine

Corporal
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Thanks for the warning! All that's available on Amazon anyway is a CD, hard-to-find and prohibitively expensive. If I get the hankering for a Civil War CD, I'll probably invest instead in what I've really been craving -- something with old hits such as "We Are Coming, Father Abraham" and "Marching Through Georgia"!! :dance:

This is a rehearsal of Father How Long from the current production (as Freedom's Song) at Ford's Theatre.

.

It is hard to find and I am dreading when my digital copy goes kaput.
 

KansasFreestater

1st Lieutenant
To each his own. I love it. I will be seeing it for the second time in Ford's Theatre in two and a half weeks and have planned vacations around seeing it (the first time at Ford's, once in South Carolina, Clarksville, TN). It isn't Les Mis, but it wasn't ever meant to be.
Oh my gosh, you're talking THE Ford's Theatre, aren't you? WOW. Talk about goosebumps-inducing!
Evidently, they've retitled it (and perhaps, revised it -- perhaps especially for the Ford's Theatre performance?) Now it's "Freedom's Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War."
If I were in that part of the country, I would definitely go see that!
 

rhettbutler1865

Colonel, CSA Cavalry
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
If anyone here has a hard time making other people understand why you're a Civil War buff (which I doubt anyone here will, given the fabulous comments on this thread), you can always hand them a copy of this book:

View attachment 63164
I love it! Didn't even know about this book---Thanks! And I know Minnesota was first to raise troops--and the famous Gettysburg charge...and I'm proud of the tough men from here who fought and died. I just want to be around the places where it all happened. BTW, thanks for recognizing MN! and it's role in the CW...
 

Georgia Coast

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Location
Florida
I'm glad you asked. Capt. Isaac N. McMillan, 75th Indiana:

View attachment 63094


His story has a sad ending. After surviving 3 years in the civil war, fighting in many battles and being wounded slightly at Chickamauga he was out hunting with his son, the year 1877, on his farm in Ohio, and in the act of climbing over a fence, somehow his gun discharged and he was shot in the head. He died right there in front of his son, leaving a family of 4 including his youngest-my 5 year old gg grandmother.
How handsome! Did you inherit his looks? A bit Johnny Depp-ish...
 
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